It is not a habit of mine to be alert to social media and it is certainly unusual that I should respond to its often sweeping and exaggerated musings.
I realise that people often use it to let off steam or offer criticisms that elsewhere they would be more cautious or hesitant in expressing. But as chairman of Derry City Board I have recently been alerted to a destructive series of postings that have gone beyond what is acceptable, and, left unanswered will do damage to the club.
There has been a raft of negative comments on the price of tickets for the match against Dinamo Minsk which will be played on the 12th of July. There have been comments from long time supporters who say they have never missed a European game but will not be attending the game next week and there have been calls to boycott the match.
That negativity appears to have seeped into the wider community. The usual response would be to appeal to supporters to attend the game, to acknowledge that recent results have been poor, to call for loyalty in the bad times in anticipation of better times to come.
The club will do all that.
It will admit that the price of children’s tickets were expensive and have taken steps to reduce those prices. It will point out that Derry City is the only club in the League to pay VAT and it will be open with fans about financial outgoings and income.
But there is another task to be done; to alert supporters to the true nature of the financial state of the club. Derry City is a community club but it is also a business. If it spends more than it earns it will go out of business.
For the last number of years our outgoings have outstripped our income by a considerable amount. The money generated from European competition, from sponsors and the sale of some of players to English clubs has helped, but at the end of each financial year I have had to fill that gap.
That is neither a healthy nor a sustainable long term solution.
The issue becomes more pressing when some other clubs in our league are working to much larger budgets that have been generated from European success, larger gate receipts or because of the health of the southern economy, from greater and more lucrative sponsorship. That makes our task of staying at or near the top of the league more difficult but more imperative.
The new stadium has, thankfully, generated new interest and the start of this season saw an impressive increase in attendance. That was moving in the right direction but gate receipts must be sustained and increased over a number of years. Otherwise the club is in danger of falling to the bottom of the league or falling out of professional football altogether.
The bottom line is that Derry City must become financially independent sometime in the next few years.
I am happy to play my part in that task and am happy to sustain viability until that happens. It will need support and loyalty from every section of the City.
Negativity and boycott is the one sure way to kill the club.
I hope we can get the turnout during the remainder of the season that confirms that our supporters are committed to the same cause.